Layering Pads in Uplifting Trance Music Production
Although the title of this great tutorial may lead you believe that it’s only intended for Uplifting Trance music, it is not. In fact, it is perfectly relevant and applicable to all Trance production, and even many other music genres, so check it out!
Mixing, matching and layering your sounds in the right way can mean the difference between a pretty good song and a really great one!
Layering sounds in your projects is something of a re-occurring theme around here, and as long as I here this trend will probably continue. You see, it’s not that it just makes for a richer, deeper, more interesting sonic experience, it also makes you a better sound designer and producer. Learning from your sounds is something that I think should happen just about every time you sit down to make a new track. Seriously. OK, enough preaching. Onto the task at hand. How do we go about making a killer layered pad scenario in Trance music? Just follow along with the video. If you do not have Logic Pro and Nexus, don’t worry. All of this is able to be done in any program out there.
Alright. First we start by selecting some pads to use. As seen in this video, they do not need to be anything incredibly special to learn how to layer different sounds together. The important thing in this lesson is to pay attention to the process and begin to understand the types of sounds that work best together. Once you have this down, you can start implementing elements like sidechaining to create movement and ducking to allow for other sounds tom come forward in the mix. None of the examples used in this tutorial have any particular value beyond the role they play in the example.
You can begin with a nice and simple pad progression for a breakdown and it sounds ok. But if you layer a second bass pad that is very heavy in the lower frequencies, and layer it under the first pad, you get something much more inviting and entrancing for your listeners. Moving on the main body of a song, you can apply the same basic idea across several sounds to accomplish even more. The trick is to not get carried away or force sounds that do not belong together.
Pick a small embellishment that can easy into the main part of your song after the breakdown. It can be just a second or two of audio if you allow it to ring out with a bunch of delay, echo and reverb. Sync this to the beat of your song and you will end up with an easy transition element that you can use to introduce your new pads.
Using something light and airy for the first sound makes it easy to keep from overdoing it, because there is not much to compete with when you introduce the second sound to the mix. (The second sound in this example is a little over the top for this particular example, IMO.) The second sound can easily include a rhythmic character and can help to keep the background sounds moving forward, which makes for a nice counterpoint of the lead melody which would be added later. Now a great pad to use for the last layer (if you are only using three. There are no rules about this, of course. Except not to over do it!) is something ethereal, dreamy or somehow hypnotic in nature. It’s easy to use with a sidechain compression ducking effect, as well as filter sweeps, as there is nothing to interrupt.
There is no exact recipe for success, which is why I chose such a simple video for the example. Take from it what you will, but be sure to experiment with mixing different types of sound together. You may also have great results with layering the same sound more than once with different EQs, notes, filters, etc. So go work some magic and let us know what you come up with. We’d love to hear from you!